Minnesota Wild: How the Toronto Maple Leafs’ blueprint could help

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ST. PAUL, MN - DECEMBER 01: Mitch Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Mikael Granlund #64 of the Minnesota Wild battle for the puck during a game at Xcel Energy Center on December 1, 2018 in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

ST. PAUL, MN – DECEMBER 01: Mitch Marner #16 of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Mikael Granlund #64 of the Minnesota Wild battle for the puck during a game at Xcel Energy Center on December 1, 2018 in St. Paul, Minnesota.(Photo by Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images)

Looking at the Minnesota Wild; their standing this season and the shape of their current roster, you have to believe that the team should be considering who will be available early in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.

If the season were to end right now, they’d be picking in the first ten or so places and realistically, they need to. The current make-up of the roster is that of a team that plays it safe and has a bit of a physical edge.

We’ve seen throughout the NHL that neither style has stayed in vogue. The style to play these days is that of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Pittsburgh Penguins or today’s opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Sweet irony has the Toronto Maple Leafs labelling tonight’s game as their ‘Next Generation’ game and the Minnesota Wild would be wise to take some hints from their opponent.

The time is coming for us to be willing to step back, look at the Minnesota Wild and realise that it’s not working. As much as it may have seemed that big-money contracts for Zach Parise and Ryan Suter were the key to future successes, these victories haven’t come to fruition.

Unfortunately for the Wild, the size of those two contracts is probably what has stopped them from making a decision earlier. That and the fact the team was so willing to mortgage draft picks year after year in a push to remain relevant and win a play-off round.

The blueprint that the Toronto Maple Leafs have created to turn their whole organisation around is one that the Minnesota Wild brass would be wise to look at and copy verbatim. Plain and simple.

This is a team that built a solid core, packed in youngsters around them and had minor league successes that have been very useful in terms of being able to push cheap, younger guys into spots previously filled by veterans on bloated contracts.

These successes haven’t yet taken the Stanley Cup to Toronto, but even with only two seasons’ play-off experience, you’d have to say that they look a much stronger team than the Wild one that has found itself, like them, knocked out in the first-round year on year.

If the Minnesota Wild are willing to commit to a bit of short-term pain for long-term gain, there are a few key pillars that you want to prop the future roster upon.

Firstly, which players do you put in place to replace the ageing core of your future contending side?

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